Dolly Parton Wrote ‘The Seeker’ When She Was Deciding Whether She ‘Wanted to Be a Christian or Not’

Dolly Parton is one of few famous country/pop musicians who have gospel music on best-selling albums. It’s no secret that Parton’s relationship with God is a big part of her life. She sings about Him, writes about Him, and talks about Him like He’s her best friend; she prays to Him every day. In an interview Parton did with Rolling Stone back in 1977, she spoke about her inspiration for her 1975 song, “The Seeker.”

Dolly Parton singing at the Tennessee Film & Music Commission Industry Party.
Dolly Parton | Robert Mora/Getty Images

‘The Seeker’ came to Dolly Parton when she was considering Christianity

When Chet Flippo asked Parton about “The Seeker,” she said:

“I tell you, that’s a song I love. I do believe, I know there is a God and He is still the best friend I got in the world. I talk to Him often, but I’m one of the world’s sinners. I think I’m a vanilla sinner—too bad to be good and too good to be bad. Because it wouldn’t be all that hard to be good but I just don’t know that I want to be. I think I won’t have no fun if I’m too good. But I had some friends that had just been renewed and they were real happy about it and so religion was real heavy on my mind. I just could not decide whether I wanted to be a Christian or not.”

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Parton was in the kitchen “a-cookin'” when the song came to her.

“I started thinken’ about how serious that was, so—I am a seeker, a poor sinful creature, there is none weaker than I am, I am a seeker and you are a teacher,” she said, as recorded in the book, Dolly on Dolly. “So I was just thinkin’, ‘Lord, you’re gonna have to hit me with a bolt of lightning because I ain’t gonna do it on my own.’ So I wrote that out of a heavy heart.”

In the end, Parton declared that she’s “certainly not a Christian.”

“I will try some of anything, I mean I will,” she said. But Christianity wasn’t for her.

Another calling

At one point, Parton thought it was “definitely possible” she’d become a preacher. When she was young, her mother would tell her she had a gift for bringing people to God.

“I often wonder what my calling really was because I often thought I was born for a purpose other than just to be a country singer,” she said. “My mama always predicted that someday I would lead a lot of people to the Lord. She said, ‘I don’t care where you go or what you do in this world, you are one of God’s children and someday you are going to do a great work for the Lord.’ So, maybe I will [become an evangelist]. Someday.”

Dolly Parton says she’s not that religious but ‘very, very spiritual’

Today, Parton says she’s “not that religious.”

“But I’m very, very spiritual,” she wrote in her 2020 book, Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics. “I grew up in very religious surroundings. I grew up with a Bible background, and I’m glad I did. I know my Bible stories.”

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The “9 to 5” singer is who she is today partially thanks to her upbringing. So she wouldn’t change her Bible background.

Despite not being religious, Parton prays often.

“I pray a lot,” she told Southern Living in 2014. “I pray that God will show me what to do and will guide me and lead me. And I try not to answer His prayers. I try to keep myself wide open to recognize what it is that I’m supposed to know and to see. I may not always like a route that something’s taken. I might prefer it to be something different. But I think, ‘Well, this is what I’ve got.’ So you gotta make the most with what you’re supposed to be doing.”